Bad, Cringy Photos To Avoid In Your LinkedIn Profile: Cropped Wedding Photos, Look To The Side, Bitstrips, Modeling Portrait, Pet Photo, TedX, Worst Headshots

Dos and Don’ts: Tips from a Professional San Francisco LinkedIn Headshot Photographer


Thanks to LinkedIn, headshots have become a staple nearly all people of various professions not just models, athletes, CEO’s, artists, actors, actresses and speakers. Headshots are a great way to build your brand, assist with networking, put a face to a name and help you to keep in touch with colleagues, recruiters and industry professional.

Is It Better To Have A Linkedin Photo? Is It Bad Not To Have A Picture On Linkedin?

LinkedIn is one of the most heavily trafficked website on the planet. As a marketing and research tool, it is often times the main method for recruiting, competitive intelligence, finding a professional, evaluating possible employers, prospecting clients and partnerships as well as a screening tool for online dating.

Users with profile photos receive up to 21 times profile views than those without photos.

When it comes to first impressions, it’s important to have the best Linkedin headshots to represent you.

What Is A Bad Linkedin Photo? Unprofessional Headashot Examples

Unfortunately, not everyone knows what an appropriate headshot is. Some people repurpose existing photos, others crop personal photos, a few use photos they like or have seen from others but don’t necessarily translate because of industry norms. Some of the industries with the worst headshots I have seen are in academia, real estate, banking, law, sales, life coaches, accountants, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Below is my list of cringeworthy inappropriate photos, self-absorbed, wannabe influencer portraits, annoying salespeople, b-school jargon-laded entrepreneurs and more.


What Your Headshot Says About You – Photo Analyzer: Bad Linkedin Photo Examples

It’s important to understand how your photos are viewed by others. How you view yourself does not always resemble how others view you. What works for one person may not work for others based on age, industry, seniority, skin tone, hair style, wardrobe, facial features, hair length, lighting, background and more.


Look To The Side Headshot, Photoshopped Studio Headshot

That photo taken in what appears to be a Sears or JCPenny studio background with the subject wearing a vest and looking 45 degrees up and 45 degrees away from the camera. What the hell are you looking at? Why is your mouth open? Are you stuck in the middle of a game of freeze tag?



Bitstrips, Bitmoji Digital Illustration Headshot

When HR and CEO want to make your company more approachable and interesting in the about us section of your website and realizes actual headshots will scare off applicants, business partners and customers.



The Anonymous, Empty Headshot

When you don’t want anyone to see you because you are on an FBI most wanted list or because Re/Code and TechCrunch wrote a very unflattering piece about you and the way you treated your spouse, employees or ex-company / investors.

Linkedin_Anonymous Headshot

Linkedin_Anonymous Headshot

Workout, Too Much Skin 

For the personal trainers and fitness professionals that want an excuse to show too much skin in a highly sexualized manner to highlight their narcissistic personalities. This tactic is also used by some sales individuals in banking, real estate, or personal coaching professions.



Modeling / Sideways Over the Shoulder Pose

When you want to look your best so you hire a modeling agency photographer to airbrush your skin, remove blemishes, blast the lighting in your face and add dimples, sparkles in your eye, teeth whitening and wrinkle reduction. Bonus points if the photos look noting like you and were taken over 10 years ago. This person is likely to misrepresent or inflate their title ala Assistant to the Regional Manager to Assistant Regional Manager.



Pet Portrait aka Dogfishing

When people like you for your pet only and you can’t afford not to be liked. Tactic adopted from online dating apps.



Cropped Wedding Photo 

When you pay over $5,000 for your wedding photographer and you convince yourself you can use a cropped photo for your professional headshot rather thank shell out an extra $200-$400 for the actual photo people will see and not the photo buried in your wedding album that will never see the light of day.

wedding crashers headshot

wedding crashers headshot

Party, Club Photo aka Jersey Shore Headshot

My personal favorite. Cropped red cup or Corona beer bottle with matching red face, unbuttoned shirt, neon lights, are over your shoulder and a slight glaze in your eyes. Never change.


TedX Photo aka Prestige Worldwide

You are riding the wave of that one conference speech you gave 7 years ago. It was the only time you had the entire room’s attention (and that was because the doors were closed until break time).



Lazy Startup Brogrammer Photo

Flip-flops, earphones, college t-shirt or company schwag shirt seated at your desk pretending to look caught off guard but you were practicing this shot for the last 3 hours last night after everyone left the office.



Black & White Photo, Editorial Photo

When you want to hate yourself slightly less than the IRL color version of you, there is the digital black and white version of you.



Face Photos aka Flying Heads

No neck, no shoulders, no chest – just face, ears hair and chine occupying 95% of the circular Linkedin photo space.



The Harvey Dent Headshot aka Two-Face Headshot

Not as common as the rest but on occasion you will see THAT person post a photo of half their face. Maybe done deliberately but it is obvious. You are hiding something.

On that note, rotating your face more than 15-20% away from the camera not advised or else people will draw the same conclusions as above.

Additional Reading: Worst Online Dating Photos To Use In Your Dating Profile


What Not To Wear For Professional Headshots

Avoid looks that are too casual for your industry. Avoid spaghetti straps on dress. Avoid wrinkled or stained shirts. Avoid white shirts unless layered with a sweater or blazer.


Final Thoughts: What Should You Avoid In Headshots

Obviously these are broad, sweeping generalizations I outlined here. If you have a pet company, pet photos are great. If you are a fitness coach, fitness photos are great but keep it classy. Black and white photos are ok if you want to have consistent photos on your website but most people prefer color photos to have some pop, energy and dimension.

Accountants, engineers, scientists, medical professionals tend to have the worst photos because typically these people work from behind a computer or wear specific uniforms that are not as unique or stylish as others but that doesn’t mean you can’t obtain a great headshot to easily stand out from the competition.

About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago. His speciality is approachable, professional photos and focuses on outdoor headshots, branding photos, lifestyle images and those seeking something custom rather than a boring, stiff studio headshot.

His locations scouting is second to none. He factors outfits, hairstyles, hair colors, skin tones, industries, inspiration and availability to customize photos for LinkedIn, branding efforts, press releases, company websites, speaking conferences and personal websites.

His clients include VC firms, CEO's, Founders, Attorneys, Tech, Non-Profits, Medical Professionals, Coaches, Engineers, Government Employees and Creative Professionals from companies like Google, Apple, Salesforce, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp & more.

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